With a Jurassic Park-style setting in the Seychelles, Constance Ephelia is a family friendly blockbuster of a hotel, located on the main island of Mahé (read: no need for transfers, your holiday starts sooner). Set in 300 acres of private land, bordering the marine park of Port Launay, the hotel sprawls out around mangrove forests, granite boulders, ancient trees and two of best beaches on Mahé. The north side of the plot is quieter, while some of the livelier bars are situated in the south. If that’s piqued your interest, you’ll be pleased to hear the wine lists are award winning, too – try them at the quintet of restaurants and parade of beach-side bars dotted around the hotel's grounds.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine and a fruit basket. Early check-in/out (subject to availability)
Double rooms from £298.74 (€351), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gym, tennis court, kids’ club. In rooms: air-conditioning, minibar, free bottled water, TV, tea and coffee, and U Spa by Constance bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Predictably, given their lofty location, the clifftop Hillside Villas are the best sunset spots in the hotel; their plunge pools are pretty pleasing, too (as is the in-room wine selection). Some of the room categories are a bit more basic, but everything else on offer at this resort means you probably won’t even notice.
Take a dip in one of the four pools dotted throughout the village, or your own private splashing spot if you’ve booked a villa.
The U Spa by Constance is another micro-village within the tropical gardens, with 14 treatment rooms, a sauna and Pilates-and-yoga schedule.
Bring jungle-explorer clothing: cork-dangling hats and a whole lot of neutral linens if you want to get serious.
Due to its jungly setting, the hotel isn’t accessible for wheelchair users.
Babysitting is available 24 hours a day and costs from around £8 an hour. There’s a kids’ club for Little Smiths aged four and up. Extra beds can be added to all rooms (for an extra charge).
Babies and up
The multiple-roomed villas are the best bet for families, but extra beds can be added to all rooms.
The kids’ club is open daily between 9am and 8pm, and accepts children aged four and older. Younger children can attend but will require a babysitter, charged hourly.
Playground, beach, pedalos, playhouses, mangrove visiting, arts and crafts.
Children are allowed in some of the resort’s restaurants and bars, but not all.
Available between 8pm and 8am, for around £12 an hour (£8 an hour during the day). If parents require more than five hours, a room-service meal for the babysitter will be added to the bill.
Nab a spot at the chef’s table in Cyann to watch the magic happen as you enjoy a made-for-you menu.
By night, ‘evening resort chic’ kicks in. If you don’t know what that means: smart trousers, tailored shorts, sleeved and collared shirts, OK; flip-flops and swimwear, not OK. At Cyann, long trousers are required for Mr Smiths; Mrs Smiths can go to town.
There are many: Adam & Eve gets back to nature, with an open kitchen, sandy floor and walls made of the famous local granite. The food celebrates South-East Asia, especially the street-food output of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Japanese-flavoured Cyann, the flashiest of the bunch, is at the bottom of the Hillside Villas’ hill, with an impressive view out over Port Launay and a deft mix of indulgent French flavours (with added wine cellar) and lighter options in the form of its poolside sushi bar. Seselwa is on the resort’s North Beach and serves up creole cuisine and simple grilled seafood – and a buffet breakfast, which you can also eat at Corossol (which is a haven for international palates). Helios on South Beach pays homage to the Med, also in buffet form. Be sure to book in ahead at your favourite.
There are several, including one attached to each restaurant. The bar at Adam & Eve will keep clean-eaters happy with its juicing vibes – even those on something harder can pretend thanks to the coconut cups. Down at Kabana on Port Launay Beach, beers come with a game of beach volleyball. Cyann’s bar is the most sophisticated: brush up on your aged rum, rare sake and fine wines.
Adam & Even opens for lunch between noon and 5pm, and dinner from 7pm until 10pm. Lunch at Cyann and Seselwa is from noon to 3pm; dinner is 7pm to 10pm. Most of the bars stop serving at 10pm.
The hotel is on the north-western coast of Mahé, the biggest island in the Seychelles.
The archipelago’s international airport is 22 kilometres away. British Airways flies there direct from London; direct flights are also available from Dubai.
The hotel is a 25-minute drive west of the Seychelles’ capital, Victoria.
Regular ferry services link up Mahé with Praslin and La Digue; if you want to get to other Seychellois islands, you’ll need your own vessel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Once you’ve had a dip in all four pools, played a round of tennis and soothed any stress at the spa, more combinations of sun, sand and sea await. Hike the Morne Blanc trail, which takes in tea plantations, jackfruit trees (hence the musty smell) and mist forests, culminating in some sweeping views. Pack a snorkel and head to Beau Vallon Bay; it’s busy, but also has one of the best views of the setting sun. The hotel can arrange activities including zip-lining. For your classic Seychelles snapshot, take your bucket and spade along to Petite Anse, where white-sand-and-clear-water dreams are made.
For some simple seafood and a decent selection of healthy, vegetarian options, try Veranda Café in Barbarons. In Port Glaud, feast on Creole curries, freshly caught octopus and creative salads at Del Place. Set on some requisite granite rocks, husband-and-wife-run La Scala is one of the archipelago’s oldest restaurants, still serving up classic Italian cuisine. Don’t miss Gianni’s chateaubriand – or, since he’s also an enthusiastic fisherman, his catch of the day.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in the Indian Ocean and unpacked their swimsuits and sarongs, a full account of their beachside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Constance Ephelia in the Seychelles…
This is a tale (or a hotel) of two halves. Constance Ephelia stretches over a headland, with beaches at either end and a mangrove forest in the middle. It’s quieter up north, where you’ll find the secluded villas, with a livelier location for the suites in the south – but all of the rooms are within a short walk of some sand. Ancient trees fill this jungle; if you think you can smell onions, it’s probably just the jackfruit. Little Smiths will love being immersed in nature here – activities courtesy of the crèche include mangrove exploring, giant-tortoise feeding and trying out fruits you definitely can’t buy in Waitrose (and there’s plenty of room for them, too: even the smaller roomsare generously proportioned). Restaurants range from parent-assisting buffets to fabulous Japanese fine dining, with the award-winning wine lists to match. Two halves definitely make a whole.